Friday, December 21, 2012

Examine "Facts" Relative to the Sources: Finding my Patriot

For at least a decade now I have longed to join the Daughters of the American Revolution; the DAR. Don't ask me why really. I'm not a joiner for the most part. I guess I just think it would be cool for someone to acknowledge the quality of my genealogy research.

To become a member of the DAR one has to unquestionably document her direct connection to a soldier who fought for the cause of American independence from Great Britain. In many instances the women who belong to the organization enter on the coat-tails of their mothers or grandmothers; someone else had their genealogy accepted by the DAR. My mother, neither of my grandmothers, nor were any of my great-grandmothers members of the DAR. I'm on my own here and I just know, in my gut, that I am descended from a patriot.

One line on my father's side is well documented as early settlers in the New World. However, at the time of the American Revolution those ancestors of mine lived on Long Island, New York which was a loyalist stronghold. In other words, those ancestors of mine were probably shooting at the Daughters' ancestors; that's not going to get me into the DAR.

Earlier this year I started trying to push past my 3rd great-grandparents. Yes, I can name all 32 of my great-great-great grandparents. Some of their lines I can take back much further but still others of those 3rd greats represent the brick-walls in my research. In the push I began working on finding more information about Annie Moore-Sharp, my mother's, father's, mother's, father's mother (how is that for a wiggly branch?).

All I really knew was that Annie Moore was the mother of Daniel Sharp, the wife of Peter Sharp, that she lived in Kingsey, Quebec, Canada, and she was born around the 1780s. I knew that based on church records I found pertaining to her marriage and the baptism of her son, Daniel. That's quite a lot actually but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know who her parents were, where she was born, and when exactly she died.

I hit the ground running with the last ditch effort of broad Google searches; the "Hail, Mary" play of genealogy research. I uncovered a Google book, The History of Bedford, New Hampshire from 1737 being statistics compiled on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Incorporation of the Town, May 15, 1900. There on page 995 of the 1903 edition was a Moore family genealogy which included the following:

"IV. Ann, dau. of William (3), b. 1785; m. Peter Sharp; res. in Kingsey, P. Q.  Had two ch.: Daniel (5) and Christopher (5)."

I had no reason to doubt that this was my Annie Moore-Sharp. The most interesting part was that reading back through that genealogy I learned that Annie's father William was the son of Lieutenant Col. Robert Moore of Londonderry, NH. Annie Moore's mother, Eleanor Moore, was the daughter of Col. Daniel Moore; yes, Annie's parents were first cousins and yes, her BOTH of her grandfathers had served in the American Revolution on the side of the Americans. I had not one but two patriots and of all places on a line that I considered to be my Canadian line.

The question is though, can I back up this clue from this secondary source with factual evidence from primary sources? 

At this point I have found any primary sources to connect Annie to her parents. I have, however, several secondary sources. I have not yet applied for membership to the DAR and thus have not had my resources evaluated by them so I do not know the definitive answer to that question...yet.

Further investigation turned up another published Moore Family genealogy. This one included in a book titled, The Life and Times of a High School Principal in Rural Quebec by J. Clifford Moore. In this secondary source the following information was provided on page 89:
"William was born in 1763, while Eleanor was born in 1767, and they were married in the year 1784. We know little about their movements prior to their coming to Kingsey. However, four of six children were born in the United States, probably Londonderry.
"Ann, who was born in 1783, became the wife of Peter Sharp;..."

Later on in the same text, on page 107, the author records the headstones in a Moore Family cemetery situated mid-way between the towns of Richmond and Drummondville, Quebec.:

"Sharp. Daniel Sharp, died October 12, 1898, aged 76 years 7 months.
Anne Moore, wife of Peter Sharp, died January 14, 1868, age 85 years".

A few more internet searches led me to a man who lives not far from the cemetery who offered to photograph the headstones for researchers; I took advantage of his genealogical kindness. Headstones, for all intents and purposes, are also secondary sources though. They're usually created close to the time of the event of one's death but the information they provide about age and dates can be just as erroneous as a death certificate. The photos do serve as yet another secondary source, though.

Will these secondary sources be enough to replace the evidence of a primary sources?
As a group they provide much more proof than they do independently.

Will they be enough to secure my membership in the DAR?
In conjunction with other primary sources about Annie's son, husband, and brother, I may have enough of a case to satisfy the DAR.

We shall see.

But the lesson is that in the absence of primary sources gather as many secondary sources as you can. Conduct what is often termed a "reasonably exhaustive search." Search a variety of documents; obituaries, church records, census records, land deeds, etc. Examine the facts relative to the sources; understand where the information is coming from and why it was recorded. That birth date on that death certificate could very well be 100% correct; can you find the birth date on other resources from various points in time?? That is the best one can do to "know."

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